Archive for Thursday, October 25, 2007

Elementary meetings wrapped up

October 25, 2007

All three elementary school meetings are finished and the opinions shared were mostly in favor of in-district transfers.

Supt. Paul Dorathy and two school board members hosted a trio of meetings for elementary parents. The topics of discussion were attendance boundary lines, transportation of and in-district transfers of elementary students.

"I would say we had 20 to 30 people at each meeting," Dorathy said. "We felt like we got input from a large percentage of people that were there. I think everybody gave their input or listened to the many different facets of the issue."

Everyone who attended the meetings openly expressed their feelings about how the district should allow in-district transfers among the elementary schools.

"A good share, but not all, of the parents have children that are transfers," Dorathy said. "We were getting their concerns if the board made a change to the policy. The biggest percentage of parents there were taking advantage of the present practice to allow in-district transfers."

Around 20 parents attended the last meeting, which was held Oct. 10 at Vinland Elementary School. No one at the meeting spoke against allowing in-district transfers.

The reasons for allowing transfers were similar to the reasons given by other parents at the two previous meetings. They included babysitters, students didn't work well with previous teacher and the students began at one school, and then moved to a different area of the district but want to remain at the same school.

Although the issues were similar, transportation was discussed a lot more at the last meeting. Some of the transportation issues focused on children living in town and whether or not they were being bused back and forth to VES.

A couple of parents said they would be willing to pay a fee to bus their children to and from school, since they don't live in the Vinland boundary area. Others said they shouldn't have to pay because busing students should be a free service of public education.

A question was asked to Dorathy regarding what reimbursements the district receives for busing. Dorathy replied, saying the district gets reimbursed for every student that lives 2.5 miles from the attendance center they are supposed to attend, according to the boundary lines.

"I think we got a good feeling about the challenge behind trying to work out a balanced and fair transportation system for moving kids across attendance boundaries," Dorathy said. "Right now I would say we are not balanced and uniform with what our practices are. We need to make decisions that will create a more uniform policy.

"That may be a little bit of a challenge, because every parent has a different situation when it comes to transportation," Dorathy said. "Everyone would like the convenience of having the bus coming right to their door to pick their child up and take them to school every day. The reality is we are not given the funding, nor do we have the time and manpower to run that many buses to pick up every child at their doorstep. We have to make a policy that is uniform for everyone."

The school board is going to continue looking at this issue during the next couple of months and hopes to make a decision by early spring.

"Essentially, it gets down to the fact that we can't make everybody happy with this, so what we've got to do is make a decision based on what's best educationally for kids within this district," Dorathy said. "The board will take that information along with a parent survey and staff input later on to make a decision on what needs to be a set policy."

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